Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News



Fears of another sell-out of the fishing industry have grown with the publication of the UK Government’s White Paper on leaving the EU.

Moray’s MP Angus Robertson says the brief mention of fishing in the White Paper, which has only 75 pages, gave him great concern that the UK Government was gearing-up to repeat the sell-out of the fishing industry first perpetrated in the 1970s.

In the white paper the brief mention of fisheries makes reference to the quantity of fish caught in UK waters by other European countries with the inference being that fishing can be used as a bargaining tool.

Commenting on the development Angus Robertson MP said:

“I’m very uneasy about what has been announced in the Tory Government’s White Paper and I know that the Prime Minister’s comment last week about Spanish fishermen has made many people in the industry fearful about what maybe coming down the line.

“The SNP has long argued for a much fairer deal for our fishing industry, outwith the CFP and with local control. 

“What we don’t want or need is for that opportunity to be traded away by the Conservative Government as it did in 1972 because it thinks it can safely use fishing as a bargaining chip in its negotiations.  

The pronouncements of the last few days from Westminster make me very fearful we are about to see history repeat itself and we must stop that from happening for the sake of our coastal communities.”

The sole paragraph in the White Paper relating to the fishing industry states:

"In 2015, EU vessels caught 683,000 tonnes (£484 million revenue) in UK waters and UK vessels caught 111,000 tonnes (£114 million revenue) in Member States’ waters. Given the heavy reliance on UK waters of the EU fishing industry and the importance of EU waters to the UK, it is in both our interests to reach a mutually beneficial deal that works for the UK and the EU’s fishing communities. Following EU exit, we will want to ensure a sustainable and profitable seafood sector and deliver a cleaner, healthier and more productive marine environment."

A Scottish Office memo dated 9 November 1970 infamously said in relation to the negotiations being conducted by the then Conservative UK Government: "in the wider UK context, they [the fishermen] must be regarded as expendable".